Relates to protecting homeless children from lead paint poisoning; bars discrimination in the leasing of rental property against families receiving public assistance or governmental housing subsidies.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the social services law and the real property law, in relation to protecting homeless children from lead paint poisoning
PURPOSE: To assure that families receiving public assistance and/or other governmental housing subsidies are not placed in hazardous housing.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section one amends social services law section143-b and creates a new subsection to bar state and local governmental agencies from arranging to place families in housing that will be subsidized with state funds unless the dwelling unit has first been inspected by properly qualified personnel and determined to be free of lead-based paint hazards.
Section two amends the real property law to bar discrimination in the leasing of rental property against families receiving public assistance or governmental housing subsidies.
JUSTIFICATION: Lead poisoning of children persists as one of the most prevalent and preventable environmental diseases in New York. At least 10,000 children were newly identified with levels of lead in their blood at 10 micrograms per deciliter (ug/dl) in New York State in 2001. Medical research indicates that children can suffer permanent, irreparable damage at blood levels even lower than 10 ug/dl, and that there is no level of lead ingestion which is without adverse impact. Medical research also indicates that fetal injuries from lead paint can occur if women have elevated blood levels during pregnancy.
Because of this, intervention measures that wait until children have been exposed have limited benefits, and the pursuit of primary prevention, which means eliminating lead hazards before children are exposed, has been recommended by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and promoted by leading experts in the field as a critical course of action to protect the health of young children.
Although New York state banned the sale of lead paint in 1970 (1.1970, ch. 338), seventy-four percent of New York's housing stock was constructed prior to 1970. At least ninety percent of lead-based paint still remaining in occupied housing exists in units built before 1960 (when New York City banned lead-based paint). New York State has both the largest percentage and the largest absolute number of older housing units with lead paint in the nation.
The deterioration of lead-based paint in older residences results in increased expenses each year for the state of New York in the form of special education and other education expenses, medical care for lead poisoned children, and expenditures for delinquent youth and others needing special supervision. The New York State Department of
Health has called for the elimination of childhood lead poisoning in New York State by 2010.
It has recently been reported in various news media that New York City's department of homeless services has been placing homeless families in dwelling units without properly inspecting such units first to assure that they were free of lead-based paint hazards, and that as a result such families have been placed in housing that is hazardous. Social Services Law section 143-b was originally enacted because of "certain
existing evils and abuses *** which have caused many tenants, who are welfare recipients, to suffer untold hardships, deprivation of services and deterioration of housing facilities because certain landlords have been exploiting such tenants by failing to make necessary repairs and by neglecting to afford necessary services," (Declaration of purpose and necessity, L.1962, ch. 997, § 1). In upholding the constitutionality of this law, the New York State Court of Appeals explained that "... welfare recipients have even less freedom than other tenants of deteriorated buildings in selecting a place to live ... and the landlords of welfare recipients, secure in their receipt of rents directly from public funds, have even less incentive than other landlords to make repairs." MATTER OF FARRELL V. DREW, 19 NY2d 486, 492 (1967).
This amendment to social services law section l43-b would address the concern that public funds are misused when they support the placement of vulnerable families in housing with lead-based paint hazards. In addition, to address concerns that such amendment would make it more difficult to find landlords willing to lease dwelling units to those on public assistance or otherwise receiving governmental rental subsidies, the real property law would be amended to bar discrimination in the leasing of rental property such families.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2009-2010 Referred to Social Services, Children & Families; Codes (S.7419A) 2007-2008 Referred to Social Services, Children & Families (S.3043)
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: Minimal.
EFFECTIVE DATE: Immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 1391 2011-2012 Regular Sessions IN SENATE January 7, 2011 ___________Introduced by Sens. PERKINS, BRESLIN, DIAZ, DUANE, HASSELL-THOMPSON, KRUEGER, MONTGOMERY, PARKER, SMITH, SQUADRON, STAVISKY -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Social Services AN ACT to amend the social services law and the real property law, in relation to protecting homeless children from lead paint poisoning THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Section 143-b of the social services law is amended by adding a new subdivision 7 to read as follows: 7. NO STATE OR LOCAL AGENCY SHALL ARRANGE TO PLACE A FAMILY CONSISTING OF A PERSON OR PERSONS UNDER SIX YEARS OF AGE OR PREGNANT WOMEN IN ANY DWELLING UNIT CONSTRUCTED PRIOR TO NINETEEN HUNDRED SEVENTY, OR, IN CITIES WITH A POPULATION OF ONE MILLION OR MORE, ANY DWELLING UNIT CONSTRUCTED PRIOR TO NINETEEN HUNDRED SIXTY, FOR WHICH THE RENT IS PAID IN ANY PART WITH STATE FUNDS UNLESS SUCH DWELLING UNIT HAS BEEN FIRST INSPECTED BY A PERSON ACCREDITED PURSUANT TO THE REQUIREMENTS OF 40 C.F.R. 745.325 OR SUCCESSOR REGULATION, GOVERNING THE ACCREDITATION OF INDIVIDUALS ENGAGING IN LEAD-BASED PAINT ACTIVITIES, AND DETERMINED TO BE FREE OF LEAD-BASED HAZARDS, AS DEFINED BY 42 U.S.C. S4851B(15) AND 40 C.F.R. S745.103, OR SUCCESSOR STATUTE AND REGULATION. A WRITTEN REPORT SHALL BE PREPARED OF SUCH INSPECTION AND SHALL BE PROVIDED TO THE TENANT. S 2. The real property law is amended by adding a new section 236-a to read as follows: S 236-A. DISCRIMINATION AGAINST PERSONS AND FAMILIES RECEIVING PUBLIC ASSISTANCE OR GOVERNMENTAL HOUSING SUBSIDIES PROHIBITED. 1. ANY PERSON, FIRM OR CORPORATION OWNING OR HAVING IN CHARGE ANY APARTMENT HOUSE, TENEMENT HOUSE OR OTHER BUILDING OR MANUFACTURED HOME PARK USED FOR DWELLING PURPOSES WHO SHALL REFUSE TO RENT ANY OR PART OF ANY SUCH BUILDING OR MANUFACTURED HOME PARK TO ANY PERSON OR FAMILY, OR WHOEXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD05038-01-1 S. 1391 2
DISCRIMINATES IN THE TERMS, CONDITIONS, OR PRIVILEGES OF ANY SUCH RENTAL, ON THE GROUND THAT SUCH PERSON OR FAMILY RECEIVES PUBLIC ASSIST- ANCE OR ANY OTHER GOVERNMENT SUBSIDY FOR PAYMENT OF RENT SHALL BE GUILTY OF A MISDEMEANOR AND ON CONVICTION THEREOF SHALL BE PUNISHED BY A FINE OF NOT LESS THAN FIVE HUNDRED NOR MORE THAN ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR EACH OFFENSE. 2.(A) WHERE DISCRIMINATORY CONDUCT PROHIBITED BY THIS SECTION HAS OCCURRED, AN AGGRIEVED INDIVIDUAL SHALL HAVE A CAUSE OF ACTION IN ANY COURT OF COMPETENT JURISDICTION FOR DAMAGES, DECLARATORY AND INJUNCTIVE RELIEF. (B) IN ALL ACTIONS BROUGHT UNDER THIS SECTION, THE COURT SHALL ALLOW THE PREVAILING PLAINTIFF REASONABLE ATTORNEY'S FEES AND, UPON A FINDING THAT THE DEFENDANT'S DISCRIMINATORY CONDUCT WAS WILLFUL, AN ADDITIONAL AMOUNT AS LIQUIDATED DAMAGES EQUAL TO TWO THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS SHALL BE AWARDED. S 3. This act shall take effect immediately.